Monday, July 29, 2013

Read "Battle Lines" in Plasma Frequency Magazine

For the record, I'm now home from my adventure at Odyssey Writing Workshop and doing my best to readjust to normal life. There will be a full debriefing coming soon, along with an impromptu "state of the blog" address. In the meantime, however, I wanted to share my latest publication news.

A science fiction story of mine called Battle Lines is featured in issue 7 of Plasma Frequency Magazine, which is now live. You can read the digital edition for free at the link above (or buy a copy of the print edition, if you prefer to hold it in your hands). If you dig Plasma Frequency, you might also consider supporting their fundraising efforts on Indiegogo, so they can stay in business and keep paying the writers and artists that contribute to each issue.

Battle Lines is a flash fiction piece about a soldier at the end of his rope following a battle aboard a starship. I wrote this story as part of an online writing group a couple of years ago. In fact, it was one of the first flash-length stories I ever wrote, and I'm happy to have found a home for it in Plasma Frequency. This is also the story I read at the Odyssey Science Fiction & Fantasy Slam at the Barnes & Noble in Nashua, NH (though the version I read there is a little different from the one featured in PFM).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Challenge Yourself (A Guest Post by DES Richard)

While I'm out of town, toiling away at Odyssey Writing Workshop, I've decided to open up the blog to guest posts. Today's entry comes from author DES Richard. I'd like to send a big thanks his way for stopping by and sharing some wisdom. If you like what you read, be sure to stop by his neck of the web and say hello. Better yet, buy his book!

~  J.W.

Challenge Yourself

by DES Richard

One of the best writer-ly quotes out there is from William Faulkner, when he said "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning". It’s a great piece of advice, highlighting the need for routine in writing effectively. The downside is that the writing itself can fall into a routine - and no one likes a formulaic story. If you find yourself falling into that trap and thinking haven’t I written this story before, how can you shake yourself out of it?

Try Something New

Try another genre, another character, something. Given that you’re reading this blog, you probably write mostly spec fiction, but stretching your legs in another field (even if it never sees the light of day) can help you to break out of a rut and look at your main works in a new light.

My personal goal along these lines is to write one thing per month that makes me uncomfortable. Most of what I come up with is probably terrible, but like ‘being inspired at nine o’ clock’, forcing myself down that road helps me stay fresh and nimble. Chuck Wendig has some excellent generators on his blog, and I find playing with those are tons of fun when I get locked into spec-fic cliché.

Make Your Characters Hurt

It’s been said by the guy who usually writes this blog, but sometimes your characters need to be hurt, and they need to be hurt badly. Why should you suffer because your writing is in a rut? Make them pay for it. Take your outline and pick the moment where it all comes together, where he gets the girl, saves the world, whatever and cross it out and write everything goes to hell. The girl dies, the world burns and it all falls apart.

Then fix it.

My story already has that, you say. That conflict is central to the whole thing, you dork. Great! Now it has two! Write a sequelinstant cliffhanger! You’re welcome.

Or maybe it’s not that extreme. But do something unexpected. Not what your audience doesn’t expect, but what you don’t expect. What your character doesn’t expect. Make them cry in the shower and eat cookies.

Clear Your Head

On the list of phrases I use to often “get out of my own head” is No. 4 (note: not a real list). This ties back to the first part a little bit, but sometimes you just have to get away from it all. Don’t wreck your actual routine, but set a timer and go play a video game, build something out of Legos (yes, I know, but no one says LEGO, ok?), go for a walk, whatever your relaxing activity is. Just don’t think about writing for a while, even just 15 minutes.

This is probably news to no one, that getting out of your own head (see?) for a bit is something you should do, but we so often forget to do it. We sit there (or, I do, anyway), staring at our outline or the flashing cursor thinking I have to write when a walk around the block will rejuvenate us and give us all the inspiration we need to be productive.

Write it Anyway

So maybe it’s a little cliché, or it’s been done before. Write it anyway, and write it better than anyone else. Sometimes it’s better to just press on and have faith in yourself than change it because it’s been done before.

DES Richard is the author of 3024AD: Short Series One among other mostly-sci-fi works. He blogs on writing, bookselling & publishing on his blog and tweets a lot

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is Trade Publishing a Dying Dream? (A Guest Post by Chris Andrews)

While I'm out of town, toiling away at Odyssey Writing Workshop, I've decided to open up the blog to guest posts. Today's entry comes from author Chris Andrews. A big thanks to Chris for stopping by. If you like what you read, consider checking out his website for more.

~  J.W.

Is trade publishing a dying dream?

by Chris Andrews

Have you ever had a dream? Not the kind you wake up from, but the kind that motivates you to achieve something?

Since I was a teenager, my dream has been to get a novel published – my epic fantasy, the one I've loved for so long.

Back when this dream formed, success meant you got a book to hold and display on your shelf.

The publishing landscape has changed drastically since then, with self-publishing now an easy, affordable reality thanks to the electronic format.

Which is a problem, at least for the dream.

My nightmare scenario is a trade publisher offering to publish my book in electronic format only – not that it would be a bad thing, but not entirely the success I've wanted for so long.

Yet it's so close!

It would be an acknowledgement that my book was good enough to warrant a business investment – but holding an e-book reader in my hands and saying one of these files is mine?

That's not the vision I've nurtured.

My dream involves book tours, signings, and browsing through random bookshops to discover the shelves where my novels entice readers with their covers and blurbs.

It includes handing copies to friends and family and all the people who've helped me along the way, each copy personalised with a message inside the cover.

Despite the fact there's never been more opportunities for writers, the reality is that my dream is getting less and less likely – and not just for me. Others share it.

Is it worth hoping an electronic edition will sell well enough to warrant a traditional print run? Maybe.
The dream is being corroded by reality. Perhaps the dream needs to change, because it demands thousands of copies, the smell of newly printed paper, and a publisher's logo.

A download button would be a welcome addition – don't get me wrong, but it's not the dream.

The reality is that part of the dream was always going to be out of my hands, so maybe it was never the right dream to start with, but then what dream is?

Maybe it's time to expand the dream to include electronic publishing? I guess that's what dreams are about.

They grow.

Chris Andrews began his writing career when he boldly and ignorantly announced he could write a better novel than the one he’d just read. While he’s no longer ignorant about the challenges of writing novels, the dream remains. Find him on twitter: @ChrisAndrewsAU or at his website:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG: 2013 Halftime Report

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which hails the regular arrival of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The group offers a place for writers of all kinds to support each other in those moments of insecurity.

It's hard to believe it, but we're about halfway through 2013 already. Like many of you, I set a lot of goals for myself at the start of the new year, both personal and professional. And I'm happy to report that I've knocked a few of those ambitions out of the park. One such goal was to be accepted to a major writing workshop, and as this entry goes up, I'm in the middle of my adventure at Odyssey.

But I'll still have a lot of work to do when I get back. As happy as I am to have accomplished what I have so far, the goals I haven't managed to tackle yet are glaring at me as the weeks and months tick away. We all know what that feels like. Whenever New Year's Eve comes around, talk of resolutions almost always garner a few eye rolls and sarcastic laughs from the cynical among us. It's practically expected that most New Year's Resolutions are just flights of fancy that will never be kept. 

Today, I thought I'd share an infographic that was passed along to me from Allison at It highlights some of the points I made in a post about setting goals for your writing last year, but does a better job conveying the importance of writing those goals down (with some stats to back it up).

Setting Goals Infographic

Well, folks, it's July already. Have you kept your resolutions thus far? If so, congratulations! If not, why do you think that is? Did you write them down? Did you give it your all? And more importantly, do you still have time? I bet you do.

Don't concede defeat yet. Don't let failed goals be one of your insecurities, and don't wait for January to renew those resolutions. There's no time like the present. You can do it.